Does bariatric surgery reduce cancer risk?

Besides tobacco, obesity contributes to almost 40% of cancers, including kidney, liver, pancreatic, colorectal and post-menopausal breast and endometrial cancer. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is responsible for 20% of cancer-related deaths in women and 14% in men. Surely this should mean that by reducing obesity rates, we could bring down the risk of cancer in many at-risk individuals. Currently, bariatric surgery is an effective strategy for individuals with morbid obesity who fail to lose weight despite a supervised diet and exercise program.

But does bariatric surgery, that brings about weight loss, have potential cancer prevention effects? So far, the literature demonstrates a positive link mostly in post-menopausal endometrial and breast cancers only. Why is this so? Let’s find out more.

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Elipse gastric balloon: What are the pros and cons?

Gastric balloons are an alternative for those who wish to lose weight but do not qualify for bariatric surgery. There are a few types of gastric balloons in the market, with the latest one being the Elipse gastric balloon, which we will be launching soon. I’ve written a comprehensive article on the Elipse gastric balloon in a previous post, you may check it out here.

A few patients have reached out to me regarding the Elipse balloon, specifically its pros and cons. Let me address those queries in this post together with other information about the balloon that’s good to know.

First, let’s quickly recap how gastric balloons work.

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What type of bariatric surgery is best for me?

Obesity is a serious problem not just in Singapore but worldwide. Not only is obesity associated with poorer mental health and reduced quality of life, it’s also one of the leading causes of health conditions like diabetes, stroke, heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Apart from the standard weight loss protocol, bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery is something severely obese options can consider. It involves changing the anatomy or position of the stomach and small intestines. Doing so causes a decrease in appetite and food absorption, thereby leading to weight loss.

There are a few types of bariatric surgery procedures to choose from. How can you decide which is best for you? In this article, I will compare the two bariatric procedures most commonly performed in Singapore: a gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.

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Normal vs. Abnormal bowel movement: What does your poop say about your health?

Your bowel habits isn’t the nicest and most socially appropriate topic to talk about, but it’s a huge part of our functioning body and a greater indicator of your health than you might think. When I see patients, I usually try to get a gauge of their bowel movement to assess their colon health — how often are they pooping? Is the process difficult?

Although there is no fixed rule on how often a person should poop, generally pooping anywhere from three times a day to three times a week is normal. Pooping also shouldn’t be a painful process. If you frequently experience bowel movements that are painful to pass or result in lots of cramping after, you should see a doctor as you could have a condition such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s disease. Also, while it’s normal to experience episodes of constipation or diarrhoea occasionally, they should not be a consistent part of your stool pattern.

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Colorectal cancer: Why are rates doubling among the young?

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. As we end the month, let’s continue raising awareness for this number one killer in Singapore. Did you know that colorectal cancer is one of the three leading cancers in Singapore, regardless of gender or ethnicity? Everyday, approximately 5 Singaporeans are diagnosed with colon cancer, and to date, we have more than 1,200 cases each year.

At first thought to be more prevalent amongst middle aged individuals, colon cancer is on a steady rise among young adults. About 1 in 10 cases these days are patients between the ages 20-50. As it is, we don’t know exactly what causes colorectal cancer, what more find an explanation for the rising trend among young adults.

While more research needs to be done, what we can do to reduce colorectal cancer rates is to undergo regular colorectal cancer screening and find out more about the condition, including its symptoms and risk factors.

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Elipse gastric balloon: Lose 10-15kg naturally without surgery

Previously, I introduced something called a gastric balloon, a revolutionary treatment that allows overweight individuals to lose weight without bariatric surgery or a gastric sleeve procedure. I’m excited to announce that I will be one of the first in Singapore to launch the Elipse Balloon, a new generation of gastric balloon from Europe that is swallowable like a pill.

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Gastric pain: A doctor’s perspective on when to be worried

In medical terms, gastric pain is used to describe upper abdominal pain or pain just right above the belly button and below the ribs. It is often confused with stomach pain. While most pain experienced in the upper abdomen indeed arises from the stomach, some of the pain may originate from other organs like the bile duct, small intestine, gallbladder, pancreas or liver. In such cases, it may signal something more serious, such as kidney stones or the presence of a stomach ulcer.

How do you tell if your gastric pain is caused by a bigger underlying problem, and when should you consult a doctor? Here’s my take.

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Stomach cancer: What to know about this silent killer

According to the World Health Organisation, cancer accounts for about 9.6 million deaths, making it a leading cause of death worldwide. Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is one of the most common cancers; in 2018, there were 1.03 million cases and 783,000 deaths in the same year. It is a disease we should be concerned about, especially since it is more prevalent in Asia. In Singapore, stomach cancer is the 6th most common cancer for Singaporean men and 8th for women. This means about 1 in 50 men will develop stomach cancer in their lifetime.

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Is GERD triggered by more than just our eating habits?

Acid reflux is a normal process where acidic content of the stomach flows up the esophagus, causing a burning sensation in the upper stomach or chest. It is common for people —including myself— to experience acid reflux from time to time. However, frequent reflux can irritate the lining of the esophagus, giving rise to a condition known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

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What is an anal abscess and why does it occur?

An anal or rectal abscess is a condition where an infected cavity filled with pus develops near the anus. It is extremely painful and can cause fatigue, fever and rectal discharge. Most patients experience perianal abscess, a painful burning sensation near the anus. About 50% of patients with an anal abscess will develop a complication known as a fistula, a small tunnel which abnormally connects the site of the abscess and the skin of the anus.

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